My dear Wormwood,

I’m encouraged to read in your last report that your patient has gotten in the habit of blaming others for his own vices. The way that he lost his temper, and then had the audacity to blame his wife for it, warmed this old devil’s heart. Perhaps something of me is finally penetrating that thick skull of yours.

Continue to work on that wound in their relationship. Whenever he thinks back to those quarrels, keep his attention on what she did to provoke him and not on his own impatience and anger. With any luck, you’ll prevent him from ever engaging in the kind of sincere repentance reflected in those awful words, “Change me first.” I just cringe to think of them.

The question now is what to do should he begin to soften toward his wife; his natural affection and attraction for her could enable this at any time. I see two options. Your man is one of those evangelicals who really believes in the invisible world, including spirits like us. Thus, if you find that his attention moves from his wife as the cause of his outbursts and begins to settle on his own selfishness, you may call to mind his belief in “principalities and powers.”

Devil Made Me Do It

Keep that belief vague. Never let him think that you are in the room suggesting it — more of a general sentiment of “The devil made me do it.” We’ve been running that play on humans ever since their first mother blamed Our Father Below for the glorious incident with the fruit. You might even inflame his curiosity about devils and angels and spiritual warfare and all that, anything to keep him from truly owning his culpability in the quarrel.

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